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BIUST holds virtual cybersecurity symposium

CAUTIOUS: Minister Segokgo

The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) held a successful three-day virtual Cybersecurity Symposium on Tuesday.

The symposium was held under the theme: “Our Cyber state of affairs: Securing Botswana’s cyberspace for all”.

Giving an overview of the event, Dr. Oteng Tabona said the Symposium is an event meant to close gaps in awareness and understanding of the cybersecurity state of affairs in Botswana.

He said the BIUST Cyber Security Research Group is dedicated to addressing global challenges in cybersecurity, digital forensics, and networking.

“The group aims to be at the forefront of cybersecurity research and lead in the areas like; publications, awareness campaigns, cyber emergency response (CERT), SOC, academic program development, training services, consultation, conferences and workshops, industrial collaborations, and international collaborations,” he said.

In his welcome remarks, BIUST Vice-Chancellor Professor Otlogetswe Totolo said, the first-of-its-kind symposium’s aim was to bring the government, the academia, parastatal, and the private sectors to discuss cybersecurity issues at a national level.

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Totolo said cybersecurity is more relevant than ever as the government drives to digitally transform and create a Smart Botswana.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our way of life in more ways than one and has really pushed all of us to leverage more on technology and push the country’s drive to go digital,” Totolo said.

The guest speaker and Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo, said the shift towards digitalization, digitization, and digital transformation is a double-edged sword.

Segokgo said the process promotes transparency, convenience, efficiency, and productivity.

“On the flip side, however, there are security challenges associated with this change, as criminals are now borderless; high yield; less chance to be caught; many open-source platforms to carry out their attacks” warned Minister Segokgo.

The Minister revealed that in 2019 attackers have considered COVID-19 as a great opportunity for financial benefit, with more people falling prey to phishing scams through COVID-19 related
content.

“From February to March 2020, there has been about 220 times increase in spam email and 260% in malicious URLs,” he said.

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The Minister further said as a way forward, the country has to be constantly evolving in order to rid our Cyberspace of unwanted criminal elements that have come through over the last few years. “We need the public, civil society, academia and the private the sector to join hands with us,” said Segokgo.

“We believe that if we are to implement our strategy we will reap benefits of building a resilient cyberspace supported by a skilled and competent workforce and a vibrant cyber industry,” concluded Minister Segokgo.

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